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Soc.Religion.Unitarian-Univ Policy Guidelines


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Archive-name: unitarian-universalism/newsgroup-faq
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Last-modified: $Date: 2003/11/06 13:47:21 $
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              THE CHARTER OF SOC.RELIGION.UNITARIAN-UNIV

This group, soc.religion.unitarian-univ, [1] is to serve as a forum
for discussion of issues pertaining to liberal or non-creedal
religions, particularly Unitarian Universalism.

Discussion of other religions is acceptable insofar as it is relevant
to UUism, but keep in mind that another newsgroup (e.g.,
soc.religion.christian, soc.culture.jewish, etc.) may be more
appropriate.

Acceptable topics include, but are not limited to, discussion of UU
principles and practices, questions regarding locations of UU
congregations, organizing, running, administering, and living within
UU churches, moral/ethical/philosophical discussion in a UU context,
and comparisons of Unitarian Universalism to other religions.

The most up-to-date version of this document can be found at:
http://sruu.iecc.com/faq.html

             INTRODUCTION TO SOC.RELIGION.UNITARIAN-UNIV

                             Submissions

Posting to the newsgroup can be done via the usual posting mechanisms
in well-configured systems and servers. This means that the news
server recognizes soc.religion.unitarian-univ as a moderated
newsgroup, and it will automatically mail the submissions to:


 uu@iecc.com

This address can also be used directly if you are using a system that
is not properly configured. Note that there are several of the major
national Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are not properly
configured, and several of our regular posters are using the mail form
of sending articles.

Administrative material and queries should be sent to:


 uu-request@iecc.com

The moderators as a group can be addressed as:


 uu-mods@iecc.com

Materials submitted for posting to the newsgroup are handled by an
automated system (the "mod-bot") and are acknowledged when received.

Posting to the newsgroup requires a valid e-mail address. All posters
must register once to verify that they did intend to send a message to
soc.religion.unitarian-univ. The e-mail address of each member is
recorded by the software, and is used to approve each subsequent
posting as it arrives.

The registration and verification mechanism requires that after the
first posting is received at the S.R.U-U address the mod-bot software
generates an e-mail message to the address contained in the headings
of the article. This email must be returned to the SRUU mod-bot with
its contents intact (generally using the reply feature of your mail
program) so that the identifying information is not lost. Once the
verification reply is received, the posting will be placed on the
newsgroup for distribution, and this document will be emailed to the
poster.

Each posting from a registered poster or member is acknowledged by the
software with a message to the e-mail address of record. If you do not
receive a reply from the automatic software, the message wasn't
received at the moderation machine (or the reply address that the
mod-bot is using is failing to reach you).

                          Archives

All messages to soc.religion.unitarian-univ are archived online at
http://archive.iecc.com/search.phtml/uu.  You can look at all the
messages posted on a given date, or search for messages by keyword.


                          Moderation Policy

Anyone with an interest in Unitarian Universalism or other liberal or
non-creedal religions is welcomed and encouraged to post articles to
soc.religion.unitarian-univ.

The newsgroup is subject to the conventions of network etiquette.
Articles on netiquette (as it is quaintly styled in Usenet) are found
in the newsgroup news.announce.newusers on a regular basis. Other
notes on etiquette are found below in this document.

In practice, the automoderator software package will strip all
crossposting to other newsgroups from the ``Newsgroups: '' line, then
approve and insert the received articles into the newsgroup. All posts
must come from registered members. The moderators may, from time to
time, hand-moderate (i.e. review before approving) posts from some
individuals. Currently (as of early 1999) this is not being done.

The moderation guidelines are intended mainly to regulate the "noise
level" of the newsgroup. Vigorous discussion and critical examination
of the issues raised in conversation is highly encouraged. Personal
attacks and inflammatory (flaming) remarks are not tolerated.

To these ends, here are a few "bullet points" that give examples of
the guidelines that the moderators may apply in evaluating articles
posted by the members:
  * The "general rules of Usenet netiquette" will apply to this
    newsgroup. These can be found in articles appearing in the
    newsgroup news.announce.newusers at frequent intervals.

  * Irresponsible and blatant disrespect for other members may result
    in a cooling-off, or, in extreme cases, banning from posting to
    the newsgroup. Sanctions may be imposed by the moderators with the
    overall history of the posters activities, it will not matter that
    many or most postings are not abusive, any pattern of abuse may
    result in moderator action.
    Abuse is not exhaustively defined - a principle of ``we know it
    when we see it'' will be applied. Without long laundry lists of
    things defined as abuse, a feeling of what might be acceptable to
    the community and the moderation team is the operative definition.
    Examples of abuse might include:

  * Threats
  * Personally directed invective against other posters or their
    friends, families, or associates.
  * Circumventing the moderation system or assisting others in the
    circumvention of the moderation system.
  * Use of email to harass or abuse newsgroup members.
  * Explicit or vulgar language are not forbidden. However, the use of
    such language may tip the balance when considered in combination
    with other factors.



  The guidelines will be applied with a liberal interpretation in
sympathy with the Principles of the UUA. The principles are taken as
statements of intent, not statements of law.


  Administrative communications, such as comments, complaints and
inquiries, should be mailed to the moderators, and not posted to the
group.


  Posting requires that the member accept occasional e-mails from the
moderators. Refusal of email from the moderators, or reporting them to
their ISPs may be grounds for cooling or banning.


  Since Usenet is a communications medium, you should be open to email
dialog as a response to your posting. If such email turn into
harassing or illegal activity, the matter should be reported to the
moderators or the offender's ISP for action or assistance.
Warning e-mail from a moderator is defined as not being harassment.
Complaints about e-mail from moderators should be sent to:

                         uu-request@iecc.com

so that the rest of the moderators may evaluate any claims about other
moderators' actions.


  As of Monday April 26, 1999, there is a ``moratorium''[2] on
meta-discussion in the newsgroup.[3] Such discussion is a constant
generator of complaints to (and about) the moderators, and most
newsgroups members who have given the moderators their opinion about
such discussions have stated that they want it to stop appearing in
the newsgroup. A new mailing list for such policy discussion is
available from the moderation site. The sruu-policy mailing list is
handled by the majordomo[4] server at iecc.com. To subscribe send a
message to the address:


 majordomo@lists.iecc.com

that contains a command of the form:

  subscribe sruu-policy your_email_address
  end

If you would rather receive the messages as a daily digest, also send
"set sruu digest" in the same message. This begins the usual
mailing list subscription dialog process. You will be asked to confirm
your request for the mailing list, and then the message will be
processed and you will begin receiveing messages from the mailing list
shortly thereafter.

Additional comments about netiquette are included below in this
document.

                        Moderation Procedures

The moderators read all postings in the newsgroup. When they notice
unacceptable conduct by a group member as a first step, they will send
e-mail warnings. (Failure to accept the mail, or the discovery that an
email address is not valid will result in posting privleges being
suspended until the e-mail address works again.)

If the moderators don't seem to be on their toes, and posters see
unacceptable behavior occurring, email may be sent to:


 uu-request@iecc.com

to bring it to their attention. This address sends to all the
moderators.

Stage two moderation, when posters fail to voluntarily behave
themselves in response to e-mail from the moderators, consists of
fixed-term, progressive "time-out" intervals. These intervals apply to
all postings from the person during the time-out period.

Two or more moderators must agree to impose a time-out on a member.
Time-out nominations from a single moderator expire after three days.

The first time-out assigned is 3-days long. During the time-out, all
postings from the e-mail address of the member are rejected by the
mod-bot. Rejected postings will be returned to the sender by email.

A second time-out within a 1-year period increases the length of the
timeout to 1 week. Each subsequent time-out within a 1-year window is
twice as long as the previous one, up to a maximum of a year.
After one year of no time-outs, the length of the time-out for any
given member is reset to 3-days.

This table shows the cooling off times for each time-out within a
year:

                first           3 days
                second          1 week
                third           2 weeks
                fourth          1 month
                fifth           2 months
		sixth		4 months
		seventh		a year

Members placed in time-out are notified via e-mail. No public
announcements of actions taken will be made in the newsgroup. [6]

Usenet and Internet e-mail occasionally lose messages, and the
moderators can have no control over what happens to messages on their
way to or from the moderation system. Notification will be done on a
best-effort basis.

                         Why Auto-Moderation?

The concept of an auto-moderator was talked about for a long time on
Usenet. This group was the first formal USENET group to actually use
an automoderator program (the mod-bot) for its operation.

The auto-moderation method was proposed and approved due to a
sense-of-the-net feeling that another un-moderated soc.religion
newsgroup would not be approved by the Usenet powers-that-be[7], and
yet the "character" of a UU newsgroup would be best achieved by as
minimal a set of moderation policies as possible. The current
auto-moderation software attempts to meet this goal; allowing posts to
occur nearly as freely as an unmoderated group with minimal delay, yet
allowing the newsgroup readership and moderators to protect the group
from deliberate or inadvertent attacks of spamming, abusive members or
other net.mayhem.

Since the creation of this newsgroup, other newsgroups have developed
automated moderation methods, and a number of auto-moderation software
packages are available for use.

           The Cast and Crew of Soc.Religion.Unitarian-Univ

The current moderators of s.r.u-u are:

Lance A. Brown           brown9@niehs.nih.gov
Gregory "Wolfe" Woodbury ggw@wolves.durham.nc.us

The Mod-Bot software, and the hosting of S.R.U-U are provided by the
courtesy and efforts of our host and group "owner":

John R. Levine           johnl@iecc.com

  * John Levine has been involved in Usenet since 1981, and is an
    author of several books, including "The Internet for Dummies" and
    "Unix for Dummies". He's a member of and on the board of
    the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca (N.Y.)

  * Greg Woodbury has been using computers since 1958, and is a
    Systems Programmer and writer in Durham, North Carolina. He has
    been involved in Usenet as a user and administrator since its
    inception at Duke University in 1979. He is a member of the Eno
    River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

  * Lance Brown is a computer programmer and systems administrator at
    the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in
    Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He is a member of the
    Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsboro. Lance also runs
    the UUS-L independent UU mailing list: that list can be accessed
    at UUS-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
    Subscriptions are made by sending the message "Subscribe UUS-L"
    to: LISTSERV@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU

                   Notes on Network News Etiquette

                          (by Greg Woodbury)

Since its creation in 1979, NetNews/Usenet[5] has developed as a
"virtual culture" with a set of conventions and "rules" by which it
operates. The underpinning of all these rules and conventions is an
assumption that the readers and posters wish to communicate with each
other.

Along with these rules, are a set of values, which are much harder to
define in any reasonable manner. I will venture to say, however, that
there is a radical belief (in general) in favor of minimal
interference with the free expression of individuals. There are those
who think this applies to all expressions (including spam, porn, hate,
etc.) And there are those who feel that there are reasonable
limitations which can be placed on the postings. I am definitely in
the latter camp.

I base this on an understanding of the operational status of Usenet.
Usenet is perhaps the only operative anarchy in existence that has
lasted for more than 10 years. (Note: anarchy does not imply the lack
of coordination.) Each site that participates in Usenet does so
because its owners believe that they will benefit by participation.
Each site contributes resources to the effort, and (by definition)
agrees to exchange messages in a common format with other
participating sites. Each site represents a computer where the owners
have a proprietary interest in preserving their ownership and control.
To this end, each site can, and does, make its own decisions on which
newsgroups to receive and send. Finally, each site agrees to honor the
policies of the sites to which it connects. It is this agreement,
which generally exists only as a verbal "gentlemen's agreement" that
makes Usenet an anarchy.

The aggregate effect of all these trust agreements is that the policy
of the net tends to a common set of conventions. These conventions are
the "rules" of Usenet. The following bullet items present a sampling
of the "core" set of conventions.

(Courtesy of Margy Levine Young and news.announce.newusers)
  * Avoid excessive quoting - the readers have memories, only include
    as much previous text as is minimally necessary to provide
    context.
  * Don't post text that extends beyond 72 columns. Not everyone has
    wide screen capabilities, some news programs will (badly) re-wrap
    lines that are too wide, and there needs to be some room so that
    quotations don't get pushed beyond the margins.
  * Be careful in preserving the correct attributions of quotes.
    Attributing certain statements to the wrong person is rude, and
    likely to lead to conflicts that are unnecessary and 'harmful' to
    the noise level of the group.
  * Preserve Subject line appropriateness -- if the topic is still on
    track with the Subject line, don't change it gratuitously; if the
    topic has changed substantially, and the Subject line no longer
    applies, then change it (with notice.) The main reason for this is
    so that the readers can decide from the Subject lines whether they
    have an interest in that particular discussion thread. The
    contents of the Subject: line are used by many newsreader programs
    to organize articles into threads.
  * Don't post spam, commercials, or chain letters. See www.cauce.org
    for details.
  * Don't post material written by others without their permission.
    This specifically applies to materials from all commercial
    sources.
  * Don't post private e-mail that you receive without permission.
    This is an incredibly rude act, and a violation of copyright. Note
    however, that posting received threats and harassing email is well
    justified in many cases.
  * Note that posting to a newsgroup has an implication that folks who
    read your article will reply by email. If you don't want this to
    happen, put a notice in the article, or reconsider whether you
    want to participate in Usenet at all.
  * Single emails from Usenet readers are not harassment. The basic
    assumption of wanting to communicate implies dialogue. If you
    don't want email as a result of posting, reconsider whether you
    want to post it as an article at all.
  * Don't post information that has already been recently posted, or
    more than once to the group in similar words (whether by you or by
    others).
  * Before you submit a follow-up to a message, read the rest of the
    messages in the newsgroup to see whether someone has already said
    what you want to say. If someone has, don't repeat it.
  * Don't attack or denigrate list or group members or moderators (but
    feel free to debate the points that people have made).
  * Don't post regarding criticism of other subscribers' newsreaders,
    posting style, spelling, grammar, or netiquette (these criticisms
    should be sent by e-mail to the poster in question).
  * Make sure that your posts contain more new material than quoted
    material, including quotes only as needed to support your point
    (but quoting so as to maintain the original meaning of the
    quotes).
  * Don't post attached files or other non-ASCII information. Avoid
    HTML or other non-text formatted messages. (Except in specific
    "binaries-only" newsgroups.)
  * Don't post "flames" (angry messages that create more heat than
    light) or "trolls" (messages designed to generate flames or
    extreme controversy in the targeted newsgroups).
  * Every few months a plague descends on Usenet called the spelling
    flame. It starts out when someone posts an article correcting the
    spelling or grammar in some article. The immediate result seems to
    be for everyone on the net to turn into a 6th grade English
    teacher and pick apart each other's postings for a few weeks. This
    is not productive and tends to cause people who used to be friends
    to get angry with each other. Not everyone on the net has English
    as their native tongue.
  * Advertisements on Usenet are rarely appreciated. In general, the
    louder or more inappropriate the ad is, the more antagonism it
    will stir up. The news.announce.newusers newsgroup postings,
    "Rules for posting to Usenet" and "Advertising on Usenet: How To
    Do It, How Not To Do It" have more information on this subject.
  * Pick your words carefully. Writing with precision is as important
    (maybe more importanti) here as it is in any other kind of
    discourse. Consider carefully whether what you have written can be
    misinterpreted, and whether that is something you wish to have
    happen.
  * Read the newsgroup news.announce.newusers -- regularly. Even if
    you've been on the net since "before the beginning" the articles
    found there provide a convenient review anytime.
___________________________________

 FOOTNOTES

 1. The last component of the newsgroup name is limited to 14
    characters for historical reasons. Older machines generally had
    file names limited to 14 characters.
 2. ``moratorium'' (From Latin ``mora'' to delay) 2. a suspension of
    activity.
 3. This item used to read: Meta-discussions[8] about the group itself
    should be limited to one topical thread at a time. Preferably,
    such a thread should contain the string "[META]" in the Subject
    line.
 4. The majordomo mailing list program derives its name from the Latin
    major domus "The chief of the house," and its modern meaning of
    butler or steward.
 5. The original version of the program that defined the formats that
    became Usenet was named "netnews". The moniker "Usenet" was coined
    by Jim Ellis(?), of Duke University, when the program was released
    to the Usenix conference participants in 1979.
 6. This item used to read: The newsgroup is also notified of the
    action by an automatically generated posting.
 7. The phrase powers-that-be refers to the Usenet system owners and
    system administrators who make the decisions to carry or to not
    carry newsgroups on the basis of recommendations from David "Tale"
    Lawrence.
 8. Meta-discussion uses the prefix form meta- in its sense of
    transcending and as a parallel to the definition of metalanguage
    to mean "discussion about discussion." This is a meta-footnote.
________________________________________________________

Corrections, comments or additions to this document should be sent to:
       ggw@wolves.durham.nc.us

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